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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

From Immoral to Disorder to Celebration (The Transexual Lie)

As I noted in my last column, one of the greatest lies ever told is that our sin is not really sin. Guess where that leads us? It leads to men like Bradley Manning. Of course, Manning is the American soldier convicted of, among a myriad of other charges, violating the Espionage Act. Manning’s crimes got him a 35-year sentence at the military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. However, his crimes (or what should be considered crimes) against the country may not be complete.

After his sentence, Manning released the following:

"As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility)."

Manning closed his statement with, a “Thank you,” and “Chelsea E. Manning.” Despite his request, Private Manning has a problem: according to a prison spokesman, Fort Leavenworth does not provide services (i.e. hormone therapy) beyond psychiatric care. (How sad is it that such a pronouncement needs to be made?)

Fear not, supporters of transgender rights. Manning’s lawyer, David Combs, declared, “I’m hoping that Fort Leavenworth would do the right thing and provide that [hormone therapy]. If Fort Leavenworth does not, then I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that they are forced to do so.”

In other words, according to Mr. Combs, the “right thing” would be for the American taxpayer to foot the bill for Private Manning’s change from male to female. Never mind that such therapy cannot (and never will be able to) accomplish such a change. But even if it could, note the liberal hubris required of Manning’s lawyer to imply that it is the responsibility of U.S. taxpayers to fund Private Manning’s perversion.

Now, Mr. Combs did not directly mention the American taxpayer. He hoped that “Fort Leavenworth would do the right thing.” Being a lawyer, Mr. Combs is certainly no dummy, but maybe, as are so many “low-information” voters, he is so entrenched in liberalism that he assumes Private Manning’s gender change will be paid for with “Obama’s stash.”

Almost certainly, Manning, Combs, and other like-minded liberals view Private Manning’s desire to change his gender as a “right.” Thus, the lawyers are only too willing to “force” us to do the “right” thing.

Notice that? Mr. Combs made a moral appeal. He wants us to do the “right” thing. For the vast majority of the history of this country (and for millennia the world over) the right thing to do when it came to transexuality was to treat it as a disorder that needed to be cured. Not that history and tradition alone are always the hallmarks for what is good and right, but in this case they do not stand alone.

Most every moral code we know of throughout the history of the world has regarded behaviors such as transexualism as immoral (or at least perverse). Certainly most (and until just recently, virtually all) within Christianity, Judaism, and Islam see such behavior as immoral. But not liberalism—which corrupts everything it infects.

Liberalism has corrupted our government, our judiciary, our campuses, our churches, and our science. Case in point: asI noted in early June, when the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) was released this year, gender identity disorder was removed. The AP noted, “a growing faction of medical experts who no longer see this as something to be fixed.”

Don’t worry, though. The DSM 5 made up for the loss of gender identity disorder—with plenty to spare. So much so that the chair of the DSM 4 task force, Doctor Allen Frances (currently professor emeritus at Duke University, who also worked on DSM 3) called the release of the “deeply flawed” DSM 5 “the saddest moment in my 45 year career of studying, practicing, and teaching psychiatry.”

Dr. Frances laments the addition of such “disorders” as Disruptive Mood Dysregulation which, according to Frances, “will turn temper tantrums into a mental disorder.” In addition, “Normal grief will become Major Depressive Disorder” and the DSM 5 “will likely trigger a fad of Adult Attention Deficit Disorder [we’re already seeing the commercials] leading to widespread misuse of stimulant drugs for performance enhancement and recreation.” Great—Alex Rodriguez can resurrect his career by claiming he has ADD.

Frances should not be surprised. Practicing psychotherapist Gary Greenburg says that not one of the disorders in the DSM is real. Greenburg claims that the DSM is nothing more than an exercise in rhetoric; an attempt to legitimize the practice of psychiatry. “Can you define mental illness?” The Atlantic asked Greenburg. “No. Nobody can,” he replied.

In a culture that is increasingly more hesitant to use the word “evil,” Greenburg concludes that having the American Psychiatric Association (who owns and publishes the DSM) classify certain behaviors as “disorders” is a way to remove the moral aspect behind certain behaviors.

After all, if someone is sick, then he or she is not responsible for his or her behavior. (What’s more, they can then be treated—with expensive drugs and therapy, of course.) And if someone’s “sickness” is suddenly no longer a sickness, and if it is no longer immoral, then we can celebrate and welcome them into our ever more tolerant society. All we need are enough liberals in power to tell us when we’re enlightened enough to reach such a point. After all, it’s the “right” thing to do.

(See this column on American Thinker.)

Copyright 2013, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Friday, August 16, 2013

Abortion and Homosexuality are Uniquely Heinous

The greatest lie ever told is that there is no God. The second greatest lie ever told is that the devil does not exist. The third greatest lie ever told is that your (and my) sin is not really sin. Of course, each of these lies is a cousin to the others. They are all deceptions whose aim is to separate us from the greatest truth in the universe: we have a Creator who loves us and desires a relationship with us.

For this column I’m borrowing a bit from a piece that Joel Belz wrote for World Magazine over five years ago. His message was powerful and is still relevant and much needed today.

I write often about what I have deemed the “moral issues” (abortion, homosexuality, marriage, family, evolution, and so on) of our time. I prefer this label over “social issues” because I think it better describes what is really happening and what is really at stake. Cultures, especially the American Christian culture, all over the world are under attack (and have been for decades now) on the specific fronts that are the moral issues mentioned above.

This begs the question, why? Why is there, and why has there been, such a focus on these particular issues? It seems that, for a while now, young people across the political and religious spectrums have been asking that question. And in the age of Obama, many young folks, including young conservatives and young evangelicals (not always mutually exclusive), have decided that Christian conservatives are expending too much time and effort when it comes to things like abortion, homosexuality, and marriage.

Belz addressed such concerns and noted that it was time for Christian conservatives to “stop apologizing” for the attention we give the moral issues. He also noted that now is not the time for Christian conservatives and our like-minded allies to lower our voices. The reason: the moral issues are unique because today—unlike racism, poverty, and such—national movements and organizations have devoted themselves to preaching the value and legitimacy of abortion, homosexuality, and redefining marriage.

In addition, the organizations peddling these lies have garnered significant support from a doting media and political allies within the Democratic Party. As Belz alludes, which national organizations have devoted themselves to promoting poverty? Where are the evangelicals and their political allies calling for more racism? Who is donning pink sneakers and a catheter to allow “access” to a dirtier environment?

Once we take a stand, Christian conservatives should expect almost every manner of insults, or at least calls for apology, to be hurled our way. Certainly conservatives of every stripe often suffer from the ridiculous hyperbole thrown around by the left. We get accused of racism and the like, but almost always the charges ring hollow. You don’t support Obama? You’re a racist. You agree with the Zimmerman verdict? You’re a racist. You think poverty in the black community is due mostly to the breakdown of the family? You’re a racist.

The homosexual agenda first sought (and achieved) the decriminalization of homosexual behavior, but this was not enough. It now seeks the full-on moral legitimacy (which involves the complete support and enforcement of the law at every level) of everything to do with homosexuality. A national redefinition of marriage is the best means to this end. As I have noted before, once the homosexual agenda has the full force of the law behind it, homosexuality will be legally forced on school, churches, businesses, and families alike. 

With a longer history of legal protections behind it, unlike the homosexual agenda, the abortion industry has been more on defense than offense. The pro-life movement has made and continues to make great gains. However, still about a million children a year are killed in the womb in the U.S.

What has given the pro-life movement so much success lately is that modern science has brought into the light what many of us already knew: the fetus, at every stage, is a human being. Science (legitimate and non-politicized) will eventually do the same to the homosexual agenda: expose the truth. You can’t dodge the truth forever, and all truth is God’s truth, however it is revealed.

As these battles continue, perhaps what is most disturbing is the fact that Americans elected as their President a man who has enthusiastically taken up the promotion of these lies. Again, the greatest disappointment is with the electorate, not Barack Obama. Many, but not enough, of us knew exactly what he stood for.

Thus we are a nation greatly deceived or disastrously apathetic when it comes to issues that are of eternal importance. The abortion industry and the homosexual agenda, because they attack the family, strike at the very heart of our culture. Thus, loud and clear voices proclaiming the truth are needed now more than ever.

Copyright 2013, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Flaws of Georgia's Integrated Math

One of my favorite moments in C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia series occurs in book two, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Peter and Susan, the older Pevensie children, are confused and troubled by Lucy’s (the youngest sibling, though very honest) insistence of a seemingly impossible tale of entering another world, and the contrary account of malicious and mean-spirited Edmund.

Peter and Susan take their concerns to the eccentric Professor Kirk, in whose house they are staying. The exchange in the story is revealing. “How do you know,” the Professor asked, “that your sister's story is not true?” They continue back and forth for a few moments, contrasting the general reliability of Lucy over Edmund. 

The story notes the Professor’s telling conclusion: “Logic!” said the Professor half to himself. “Why don't they teach logic at these schools? There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth. You know she doesn't tell lies and it is obvious that she is not mad. For the moment then and unless any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth.”

Sounding much like the chair of the math education department of UGA when I was in their graduate program in the mid-1990s (I’ve forgotten his name), mathematician John Wesley Young declared, “It is clear that the chief end of mathematical study must be to make the students think.”  I would add, not only to “think,” but to think logically—both deductively and inductively.

“The study of mathematics cannot be replaced by any other activity that will train and develop man's purely logical faculties to the same level of rationality,” said mathematician and textbook author C.O. Oakley. Einstein beautifully declared, “Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas.”

In my 20 years in the high school classroom, I’ve often told my students that studying mathematics is not so much (or at least not only) about mastering some specific “objective” or “standard” (as we now call them); nor is it about making some future use of every little concept that they learn. I point out that these are good things, but the study of mathematics is more. It is also about growing and developing that logical part of their brains that mathematics, in particular, serves.

What’s more, “Mathematical training,” as the math department of the University of Arizona puts it, “is training in general problem solving.” Or, as Thomas Aquinas College declares, mathematics “prepares the mind to think clearly and cogently, expanding the ability to know.”

It is a widely held belief that the most influential and successful textbook ever written was Euclid’s Elements. Written by the ancient Greek mathematician Euclid of Alexandria around 300 B.C., Elements is actually a collection of 13 books. The work deals mainly with what today is typically deemed Euclidean geometry, along with the ancient Greek version of elementary number theory. Euclid’s work was so complete and superior to anything before it that all Greek writings on mathematics prior to Elements virtually disappeared.

Also, as a modern translator has noted, Elements has been instrumental in the development of logic and modern science. According to Howard Eves’ An Introduction to the History of Mathematics (one of my graduate texts), “No work, save the Bible, has been more widely used, edited or studied, and probably no work has exercised a greater influence on scientific thinking.”

The beauty of Elements lies in Euclid’s axiomatic approach, which, according to Eves, is “the prototype of modern mathematical form.” In this form of thinking, one must show (prove) that a particular conclusion is a necessary logical consequence of some previously established conclusion. These, in turn, must be established from some still more previously established conclusions, and so on.

Since one cannot continue in this way indefinitely, one must, initially, establish and accept some finite set of statements (axioms) without proof. All other conclusions are logically deduced from these initially accepted axioms (or postulates).

Sadly, this approach is almost completely abandoned with the integrated mathematics (previously Math I, II, III, and IV; now coordinate algebra, analytic geometry, and so on) curriculum adopted by the state of Georgia five years ago. As most in Georgia well know, this type of curriculum integrates several different topics (namely algebra, geometry, and statistics/probability) throughout each year of high school math.

I returned to the public schools from several years in a private school just as Georgia made the switch to this integrated approach. I knew there was going to be trouble when, during a professional development opportunity to help prepare us to teach the new math, a visiting college professor noted that, with this new curriculum, we were “not going to be able to do much axiomatic development.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that every mathematics course in Georgia high schools should be replete with rigorous proofs, but I think it benefits all concerned when the curriculum is laid out in a manner such that, for the most part, one topic logically flows (and proof could be incorporated) from the previous topic. This should be the case at least for college prep courses.

Though Georgia school systems were recently given the option of returning to a math curriculum that is more favorable to the Euclidean approach, most stayed with the integrated math. This is in spite of the fact that, as states seek to align their curriculum (see the much debated Common Core), almost no other state in the U.S. uses an integrated math curriculum.

Furthermore, if the integrated approach is best, why don’t our highest institutions of learning use it? I know of not one college or university that does so. With few exceptions, it is time that Georgia’s secondary schools abandon integrated mathematics.

(See this column on American Thinker.)

(See this column at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.)

Copyright 2013, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World